Author:   Kingsley M. Bray

ISBN: 978-0-8061-3785-8: 978-0-8061-3986-9

Click Here To Purchase Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life (Civilization of the American Indian)

Kingsley M. Bray’s biography of Crazy Horse is an immensely appealing combination of detailed historiography and marvelously accessible writing, a book that makes not only its prime subject, Crazy Horse, come into clear focus but which also illuminates the turbulent times in which his story was played out.

Bray portrays Crazy Horse as a somewhat introverted Oglala Lakota with deep spiritual yearnings and accomplishment who became an undefeatable warrior and successful strategist in the battles against other Native Americans and also against the white Americans who were encroaching on Indian lands during the mid-19th century. While many Native Americans around him were accepting humiliating terms of peace, Crazy Horse absolutely refused, choosing instead to fight and remaining defiant until his death.

Bray’s book includes nearly every battle in which Crazy Horse took part and his writing is such that the reader can easily follow battle sequences, something not always natural for this reviewer. This is particularly compelling for watershed battles like the Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer’s Last Stand), a key moment in Native American/European American relations, and a battle fully detailed in Bray’s chapter called “A Good Day to Die.”

The writing is marvelously descriptive and presents many arresting images of its central character, such as his dramatic if somewhat reckless attempt, early in his career, to bring a stalemate with some US soldiers to an end: “He kneed forward his pony and galloped the length of Cole’s defensive square. Firing at will, the troopers snapped off shot after futile shot at the slim figure leaning low over his pony’s neck. Opposite the end of their line, Crazy Horse drew rein and briefly rested his mount, still in clear range. Then he galloped back, veering closer to the line of barking Spencers. Still no bullet touched him. A third time he charged, nearer again to the soldier line. A few ragged shots tracked his run, but presently the firing stopped. Even when he made a direct dash toward the line, the guns remained silent, and Crazy Horse swung back to rejoin his stunned comrades. His disarming, wry modesty surfaced: ‘Now my friends, don’t worry,’ he grinned as they pressed forward to reassure themselves of his safety.” Crazy Horse’s battle prowess would become stuff of legend.

Although the eventual fate of Native Americans is obvious, “Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life,” told from the Lakota point of view and illuminating their way of life with meticulous research and fluid prose, is a real page-turner and one that paints an unforgettable portrait of its central character.

Click Here To Purchase Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life (Civilization of the American Indian)